God wants us in vital relationships

by Glenn Wagner

From the outset of the human story, God wanted to declare publicly that it is never good for us to live alone, disconnected from real and deep relationships with others. Personal Bible study, prayer, service and outreach all have a strategic place in the life of every Christian—so much so that you will never be a card-carrying, spiritually mature christian without them—but God never meant them as substitutes for vital personal connections with others in his family.

The Church You’ve Always Wanted, p.

The Complex Posture of Love

by Thabiti Anyabwile

From Jonathan Leeman’s The Church and the Surprising Offence of God’s Love: Reintroducing the Doctrines of Church Membership and Discipline (pp. 85-86):

Does God love humanity because of something intrinsically valuable or lovable in us?  Logically, that would be impossible.  He created us, and in his omniscience and sovereignty he wrote down every day of our lives before one of them came to be (Ps. 139:16).  He is the source of everything we have, including every good gift that’s been given since creation (James 1:17).  As such, there is literally nothing that God could behold with affection in us that he did not give us in the first place (cf. 1 Cor. 4:7).  (Can we create anything that our omniscient God did not think of first?)  God loves everyone because God beholds his own handiwork, image, and glory in everyone.  God’s love is God-centered.  When we as humans then love in a God-centered way, we love–as Augustine said–with respect to him, or for his sake.  That means we burn to see his character and glory expressed everywhere–in ourselves, in our friends and family, in our enemies, in creation, in everything.  From the vantage point of creation, God-centered love bears no judgment and draws no boundaries.  It knows only pleasure and delights in the gift of itself.

On the other hand, God’s God-centered love bears a posture that opposes everything that opposes God, just as you and I will oppose anyone who opposes the human objects of our love such as a friend or spouse.  I love my daughters, so I have an affection for their good.  How then can I not oppose anyone or anything that intends for their ultimate ill?  So it is with God’s love for God, and so it is for any true love of God that we have.  Loving him means having affection for his glory and honor.  A complex posture is therefore required.  God loves all sinners insofar as they reflect his glory; he opposes them insofar as they don’t.  What that means is that a God-centered love must discriminate; it must have preferences; it must make judgments, and it must do so in light of sin and the fall.  It is not universal, because it does not love anything that opposes God.  God-centered love does not love sin.  What is sin?  Sin is anything that opposes God and intends God’s ultimate ill.  Therefore, God’s God-centered love will discriminate between that which is sin and that which is not; between those who belong to sin and those who do not; between those who love him and seek his glory and those who do not.

God’s love is for everything that glorifies God.  God’s love is against everything that opposes His glory.  Both His being for and His being against are love because both make much of the supreme Object of all possible exultation: God himself.

If we love this way, then we do everything to posture ourselves to magnify God’s glory in Christ.  As Leeman puts it, “we burn to see his character and glory expressed everywhere–in ourselves, in our friends and family, in our enemies, in creation, in everything.”

Are you burning to see God’s character and glory expressed everywhere?

 

You yearn for a safe place, a community

by Larry Crabb

That cry from your heart is your longing to be part of a true church, to participate in spiritual community, to engage in spiritual conversations of worship with God and of co-journeying with others. You yearn for a safe place, a community of friends who are hungry for God, who know what it means to sense the Spirit moving within them as they speak with you. You long fro brothers and sisters who are intent not on figuring out how ti improve your life, but on being with you wherever your journey leads. You want to know and be known in conversations that aren’t really about you or anyone else but Christ.

Becoming a True Spiritual Community, p. 19

The church – an expression of the trinity

by Catherine Mowry LaCugna

The doctrine of the Trinity is ultimately a practical doctrine with radical consequences for Christian life . . . [The very purpose of the Christian life] is to participate in the life of God through Jesus Christ in the Spirit . . . Divine life is therefore also our life. The heart of the Christian life is to be united with the God of Jesus Christ by means of communion with each other. The doctrine of the Trinity is ultimately therefore a teaching not about the abstract nature of God, nor about God in isolation from everything other than God, but a teaching about God’s life with us and our life with each other,

~ God for Us: The Trinity and the Christian Life, p.22

Real sanctification requires a people to live together

by Todd Bolsinger

This has always flummoxd Christian leaders, whether illustrated by Paul admonishing the Corinthian church, John Calvin fretting as he walked the streets of Geneva, or ministers in our own day lamenting our lapse in values. But th problem is especially tough today. That’s because real godly change — real sanctification — requires a people to live together in convenantal relationships, and we’re less inclined to that than any generation in human history.

It Takes a Church To Raise a Christian, p.

Witnessing to Those Who Have Fallen from Faith

from CRI | By: James Patrick Holding
This article first appeared in the Effective Evangelism column of the Christian Research Journal, volume 28, number 1 (2005). For further information or to subscribe to the Christian Research Journal go to: http://www.equip.org

Christians, in their witnessing, are accustomed to giving a presentation of the gospel and offering their personal testimony. What if, however, the reaction of our evangelistic audience is something like this: “I know what the gospel message is. I once believed it myself, but not anymore” or, “I once had a testimony like yours, but I am no longer a Christian.”

These troubling responses, regrettably, are becoming more commonplace. Support groups for ex-Christians, such as Fundamentalists Anonymous (FA), are gaining prominence; the FA Web site receives tens of thousands of visitors each month, and the Internet is rife with “antitestimonies” of those who once confessed belief in Christ but have abandoned their faith. A few have joined cults or other religions, but the majority have retreated into some form of skepticism. How is the witnessing Christian to respond to the “ex-Christian” for whom the Good News is “old news”?1

Continue: http://www.equip.org/article/witnessing-to-those-who-have-fallen-from-faith/#christian-books-4

8 Lessons From The School Of Prayer

from TGC by Don Carson


Throughout my spiritual pilgrimage, two sources have largely shaped, and continue to shape, my own prayer life: the Scriptures and more mature Christians.

The less authoritative of these two has been the advice, wisdom, and example of senior saints. I confess I am not a very good student in the school of prayer. Still, devoting [space] to their advice and values may be worthwhile before I turn to the more important and more authoritative of the two sources that have taught me to pray.

Among the lessons more mature Christians have taught me, then, are these.

Find them at: http://www.thegospelcoalition.org/article/8-lessons-from-the-school-of-prayer#When:06:01:00Z